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Transcript: The ReidOut, 7/30/21

Guests: Irwin Redlener, Michael Saag, Elie Mystal, Ayanna Pressley, Cori Bush, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Donna Edwards, Kurt Bardella


Trump pressured DOJ to overturn election. DOJ says Congress can see Trump`s tax returns. CDC warns delta variant is highly transmissible. GOP House members seek freedom from mask requirement in Senate chamber.



ALICIA MENENDEZ, MSNBC HOST: Hey, Ari, I was hoping to get a shout out but no dice. Good evening to you and everyone home. I`m Alicia Menendez in for Joy Reid.

We have a lot to get to in the hour ahead, including stunning new details we are learning about the pressure Donald Trump exerted on his Justice Department to help him overturn the results of last year`s election. According to notes from a senior DOJ official, Trump pressed for the department to declare the election he lost, quote, corrupt and, quote, leave the rest to him.

The DOJ made news on another front today issuing an opinion that the Treasury Department must turn over Trump`s tax returns to congressional committee that has been fighting to get them for the past two years. We`re going to get to all of it in a moment.

But we begin THE REIDOUT with an alarming and grim new portrait of the fight to contain the coronavirus. An internal CDC document urging officials to acknowledge the war has changed, warning that the new delta variant appears to cause more severe illness and could spread as easily as chickenpox. It is more transmissible than Ebola, the common cold and the seasonal flu and smallpox. And fully vaccinated people might spread the delta variant at the same right as unvaccinated people.

The new data poses the greatest challenge yet to President Biden`s COVID response messaging, which now includes measures to incentivize vaccinations and a requirement for federal employees. In the last day, the White House has made a shift from encouraging or rather pleading with Americans to get vaccinated, to applying restrictions and inconveniences to those who won`t. The shift marks a crucial point of the pandemic when cases are sweeping the country with a fully vaccinated rate for those 12 and older at 57.9 percent.

And, still, the Republican led revolt against any sort of mandate is escalating. On Thursday, House Republicans staged a mask-less protest against protocols in Congress by walking to the Senate side where masks are not mandated. Our Republican governors, with a sweep of a pen, are taking aim at mask mandates in businesses and in schools.

Joining me now Dr. Irwin Redlener, Public Health Analyst and Founding Director at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, and Dr. Michael Saag of the Division of Infectious Disease at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. It is great to see you both.

Dr. Redlener, I want to start with you. Just walking me through the finding, as you understand them, because there is a lot to take in. What most concerns?

DR. IRWIN REDLENER, FOUNDING DIRECTORE, NATIONAL CENTER FOR DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: So, what most concerns me, Alicia, is that we start off thinking that vaccinated people would not carry the virus as much as unvaccinated people. It turns out that is not true, that 75 percent of the cases, the newly determined cases of COVID are actually among vaccinated people.

So the bottom line here is that if you`ve been fully vaccinated, you will very likely be protected from serious clinical symptoms and hospitalizations and death from the virus. But it will not protect you from carrying the infection with few or little or no symptoms.

And this is important because that means that while you won`t get very sick if you`re vaccinated, you still may be a carrier that will make it a problem for people who are vulnerable, which includes people who are older, people with pre-existing conditions, people with immune suppression and so on.

So this is an important new piece of data that is telling us that we must take extra precautions whether you`re vaccinated or not in terms of staying, keeping your masks on indoors and keeping your distance and so on.

So the fight is still ongoing and it is changing. And we`re just going to have to accept the new data as stimulating changes or differences in guidelines over what we were dealing with just weeks ago.

MENENDEZ: Dr. Saag, you are in Alabama, the state with the lowest vaccination rate, and you wrote a piece in the Washington Post about the misinformation that you`re patients are encountering. What types of efforts are you seeing to breakthrough?

DR. MICHAEL SAAG, DIVISION DIRECTION, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA MEDICAL DEPARTMENT: Well, we`re struggling. And I think a lot of the country is as well. That misinformation is everywhere. And, to me, with this new information that we just reviewed, I think we`re facing a class 5 hurricane approaching us in a major way right now that we`re not able to really comprehend just yet. Our projections, at least in Alabama is that we, by Labor Day, will be two to three times our highest number of cases that we`ve ever seen.

And the public isn`t ready for that. You put that together with a virus that is ridiculously easy to transmit and now this information about transmission even among vaccinated people, we have got to go back to standards of public health prevention, mitigation, which includes mandating mask.


When a governor or a public official takes that off the table, it is like sending us into war without our full armament of opportunities. So we have to do something to reach the public and overcome the misinformation.

MENENDEZ: A war, a hurricane, you have really laid it out there. Dr. Redlener, in the last hour, CDC Director Dr. Walensky was on Fox and shared more of what is the Biden administration is looking at. Let`s take a listen.


BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Are you for mandating a vaccine on a federal level?

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: You know, that is something that I think the administration is looking into. It is something that I think we`re looking to see approval from the vaccine. Overall, I think, in general, I am all for more vaccination. But, you know, I have nothing further to say on that except that we`re looking into those policies. And, quite honestly, as people are doing that locally, those are individual local decisions as well.


MENENDEZ: Dr. Redlener, is that what it is going to take? Is that even possible?

REDLENER: No, it is not possible. The federal government simply cannot mandate vaccinations for people. That can`t be done. That would have to be and done on a state and local level and that is not going to happen in many of our states. So I think we can basically forget about that. It is knocking our head against the wall.

What we could hope for though is like a thousand points of vaccination where companies, universities, people who put on the fence and say, you`re not coming into the door unless you`re vaccinated and can prove it.

And the other thing, I just want to say quickly, Alicia, is that, we`re out of the public health agenda now. We`re into crazy land with people not getting vaccinated because they`re afraid that we`re going to put microchips in them or they`ve all become magnetic. It is out of control and it is not really a question for the public health people. We`re saying over and over again, everyone to get vaccinated. Obviously, we need to get vaccinated.

But that is not the field that we are playing on. We`re playing on something very bizarre and unprecedented and in American society. It is going to take other kind of expertise besides of people that dealing public health as well meaning as we are, but we have to break through on another political or ideology level.

But in the meantime, I`m urging companies, schools, businesses, please, say no entry unless you`ve been vaccinated and can prove it.

MENENDEZ: Dr. Saag, I want you to take a listen to what Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has planned for Florida schools. Listen.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I`ll be signing an executive order which directs the Florida Department of Education and Department of Health to issue emergency rules protecting the rights of parents to make this decision about wearing masks for their children. We think that that is the most fair way to do it.

You know, I -- look, I have young kids. My wife and I are not going to do the mask with the kids. We never have. We won`t -- I want to see my kids smiling. I want them having fun.


MENENDEZ: Dr. Saag, what happens if all of these kids go to school, no masks? I mean, you were on the forefront of this in the hospital. Schools are about to reopen. Parents like me are wondering what we are supposed to do with our kids. Does this just actually allow for more confusion? Dr. Saag?

SAAG: Oh, sorry. So, yes, I think the problem is with what Governor DeSantis just said, what he did is basically he`s putting out there children at risk.

Now, what is different about this delta virus is that it is having more illness in kids. At our children`s hospital for the first time, we`re seeing children admitted with COVID pneumonia. And some of them are going on to ventilators. So, in essence, by taking away the opportunity to mandate masks, he`s basically throwing children and caution to the wind and putting them in harm`s way.

This, I think, is should be questioned and all it is going to take is a few kids in Florida to go into the hospital and die, and we`ll look back and say, okay, your executive order is leading to the unnecessary deaths that would be otherwise preventable in children in your state. Is that the legacy that you really want to leave behind?

MENENDEZ: Nobody wants to see that. Dr. Redlener, given this news as becoming more clear, this is a virus that wants to mutate. We`ve seen reports on how unvaccinated cluster allow more dangerous variant to form. It would seem to me that the stakes for getting people vaccinated have risen and the challenge for how to message on this has only gotten harder.

Just today, Ben Wakana of the White House COVID-19 Response Team, tweeted in all caps, vaccinated people do not transmit the virus at the same rates as unvaccinated people. And if you fail to include that context, you`re doing it wrong, which of course contradicts the leaked document we saw from the CDC. How do you square those two things?

REDLENER: Yes, how do you square this, right, Alicia, but the thing of it is that we know for a fact that vaccinated people and unvaccinated people can carry a heavy load of this virus.


There is no question about it. Are there going to be nuances and differences? We`ll see. But in the meantime, like the doctor was just saying, we are actually seeing a reckless abandonment of common sense guidelines. It is unspeakable that a governor of a state like Florida is forbidding the mandating of vaccine or wearing masks. I just don`t know what he`s thinking. But it is profoundly ignorant and dangerous and, hopefully, the people of his state will realize before that outcome of losing children to this -- to this virus actually becomes visible in Florida or any elsewhere.

But we`re at a turning point here and people have to kind to begin to take this seriously. And if the government wouldn`t, like I said earlier, it is up to businesses and organizations and universities to say you can`t come in unless your vaccinated.

MENENDEZ: Dr. Saag, I have about 30 seconds left but your sense of the incentives that would actually work to get people vaccinated?

SAAG: Yes. It is sort of blows my mind a little bit that preserving your health and protecting yourself isn`t incentive enough. But I think we need to take off the gloves, no hold bar, that we go out and find people where they live and find out why they are hesitant to be vaccinated and do what we have to do to get them into vaccine centers.

But in the meantime, we really need to mask up right now if you`re vaccinated or not. This is a new ball game. It`s a new virus. We have to apply the old rules to this situation.

MENENDEZ: Doctor Redlener, Doctor Saag, thank you both so much for your time.

Up next on THE REIDOUT, stunning new evidence of Trump`s attempt to overturn with Congress obtaining handwritten notes from a call where Trump pressured the DOJ to declare the election, quote, corrupt.

Plus, we`ll going to talk to Democratic Congressman Cori Bush, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Presley about the federal eviction ban that set to expire tomorrow and what that means for the millions of Americans to make ends meet right now.

And Republicans continue with their usual theatrics with no regard for the deadly consequences.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Apparently, according to the CDC, vaccines don`t work anymore. That science thing, inoperative.


MENENDEZ: We shouldn`t have to say this. But that is an outright lie. The CDC has never said that vaccines don`t work. THE REIDOUT continues after this.



MENENDEZ: In a major breaking story today, we`re learning new details of Donald Trump`s unprecedented efforts to nullify the results of a free and fair election. Just two weeks before the vote was certified by Congress, Trump pressured the Department of Justice to lie to the American public, pushing top officials at DOJ to declare that the 2020 election was, quote, corrupt. That is according to records from a December phone call between Trump, the former acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, and his former deputy, Richard Donoghue, who took contemporaneous notes to document that conversation.

According to those notes, Donoghue told the president to, quote, understand that the DOJ can`t and won`t snap its fingers and change the outcome of the election. It doesn`t work that way. Trump reportedly responded, quote, I don`t expect you to do that. Just say that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican Congressmen.

In other words, Trump was asking the top law enforcement agency to sacrifice its own credibility to legitimize his election lies and continue to push his baseless claims despite being told the major allegations are not supported by evidence. In fact, the officials put it quite bluntly saying, much of the information you`re getting is false.

For instance, Trump claimed on that call that the error rate in the ballot count in Michigan was 68 percent, but in reality, according to the Justice Department, it was less than one hundredth of one percent. Yet Trump was undeterred, insisting that we have an obligation to tell people that this was an illegal, corrupt election.

This wasn`t some idle request. He made clear their jobs were on the line if they refused to do his bidding. Telling them that, quote, people want me to replace DOJ leadership.

We`re joined now by Elie Mystal Justice Correspondent for The Nation and Glenn Kirschner is a former Federal Prosecutor. Thank you both so much for being with me.

Ellie, what do you make of those notes and of that conversation.

ELIE MYSTAL, THE NATION JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The scariest thing there is that he`s saying, leave it to me, just declared it`s corrupt then leave it to me and the Republican Congressmen. What does that mean? Like that is saying, leave the gasoline outside, I`ll handle the rest, right? Like the level of illegality that this man was willing going to go to, personally, I already feel like I knew that Trump was willing to destroy the entire government in order to stay in power, but this really kind of proves it in stark detail.

And you have to wonder why are Republicans continuing to defend this man to trumpet his cause, to defend the big lie and to do his bidding. Who are the Republican Congressmen that Trump was talking about that were going to help him steal this election and conduct a coup against this nation? Who are they? They should be named as well, and we should understand who they are too.

So like the -- just the level of deceit and corruption this man was willing to go to, again, it is not new information, it is not breaking information. But it is now provable information.

MENENDEZ: Yes. Glenn, I want to underscore some of the language there, leave the rest to me. What does that suggest to you?

GLENN KIRSCHNER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: You know, it suggests that, for the first time, perhaps prosecutors will have direct evidence of Donald Trump`s corrupt intent, his criminal state of mind, his guilty mens rea.


This, Alicia, is the Holy Grail for prosecutors, when you get direct evidence. And direct evidence is simply words out of the mouth of a defendant that he was told by his own Department of Justice officials that the election was not fraudulent, it was not corrupt, and he communicated back to them, doesn`t matter, I don`t care, just say it was, leave the rest to me and to my allies in Congress.

This really does provide a new level of incriminating information. And it goes right to the heart of what is sometimes the most difficult element to prove, corrupt intent. The prosecution, the Department of Justice now has the corrupt intent to go together with the guilty act.

And one question I would ask is, why did people like Jeffrey Rosen and Richard Donoghue cover this up? Why didn`t they come forward with it? Because their cover-up of this allowed January 6 to happen. These are some of the questions that I think we`re going to have to get answers to moving forward.

MENENDEZ: Glenn, in another part of the exchange, Trump falsely claims that the elections in Georgia, Nevada, Arizona, and Michigan were all corrupted. He accuses the DOJ of failing to respond to legitimate complaints and reports of crimes.

And, truly unbelievably, to back all of that up, he tells them that -- quote -- "You guys may not be following the Internet the way I do."

The Internet. Glenn, what would happen if the DOJ made decisions based on Internet rumors, rather than evidence?

KIRSCHNER: Well, they wouldn`t win a lot of cases, because what we see on the Internet rarely translates to admissible evidence in a court of law.

And this shows -- this is deflection by Donald Trump, because when he`s confronted with the evidence out of the mouths of his own Department of Justice officials, people who he put in place, he chooses to disregard it and say, well, the Internet, or maybe the tabloids, or I heard somebody say somewhere.

This is -- this is a very thinly -- a very thin veneer of plausibility that Donald Trump is reaching for.

But I`ll tell you, I really can`t overestimate the importance of the ability of prosecutors to now prove Donald Trump`s corrupt intent. So, when he stood up on January 6 and said, stop the steal, we can prove with the testimony of Jeff Rosen that he knew it wasn`t a steal.


But, Elie, what is interesting to me is that here you have DOJ officials saying no. But if Trump were to get a do-over, what would stop him from installing a bunch of lackeys who would allow this type of behavior?

MYSTAL: Well, it kind of goes back to Glenn`s point.

What would stop him right now would be Merrick Garland and the current Justice Department having the will to prosecute him for his bad -- for his bad actions, right? We now have the proof. Glenn laid it out. We now have the proof. We now have the case in writing to make against Donald Trump.

What we don`t know that we have is the will of the current DOJ to do that work. If they don`t have the will, if they shrink from their responsibilities, if they run away from justice, then what is going to happen is that Trump or DeSantis or what -- Hawley, whatever, some Trumpish person will get back in charge and install other people in the Department of Justice who they know for sure will do their bidding, should this issue come -- the wheel come around, and should they have to declare an election corrupts in the future.

They know what they will be hiring for. They can go on and be like, I need corrupt people to run the Justice Department. That`s what`s going to happen next time if Garland doesn`t do the right thing this time.

MENENDEZ: Glenn, you listen to the language, and it all has echoes of what happened with Ukraine.

KIRSCHNER: Exactly. I thought the same thing.

What did he say to President Zelensky? I don`t care -- in substance -- I don`t care whether Biden and his son did anything wrong. What I need you to do is step to the microphone and announce an investigation, so I can then take political advantage of the fact that you announced a bogus investigation.

This is more of the same. And, like Elie said, when will the Department of Justice step up and do what the American people deserve, hold a former president who committed crimes accountable?

MENENDEZ: Elie, I want to bring in another major story from today.

The Justice Department concluded that the Treasury department must turn over former President Donald Trump`s tax returns to a congressional committee that has been seeking them for the past two years. That said, the government agreed to give Trump`s lawyers 72 hours` notice before turning over any returns to give him time to try to prevent the disclosure.

Elie, is this going to mark the end of Trump`s long-fought battle to keep those returns secret?

MYSTAL: Maybe.

But, like, I`m underwhelmed by this.


MENENDEZ: The sigh says it all, Elie. The sigh says it all.


MYSTAL: It`s been two years, and he`s never had a legal case.

He has never had a good, colorable legal reason to prevent the House Ways and Means Committee from seeing his tax returns. That has never been on the table. The entire tactic has been delay, delay, delay, and obfuscate.

So now, two years later, when he`s already out of power, now we`re finally going to get the tax returns to the House Ways and Means, maybe, after he does some other legal shenanigans and tries to get it kicked up to the Supreme Court, which will take another year to decide this?

Like, I -- it`s just underwhelming. And it shows again just the power of Trump`s actual legal strategy, which was to ignore the law, and dare somebody to call him out on it.

And so I again come back to the current DOJ. If you do not prosecute him for what you have him for, if you do not fulfill your responsibility now, then it`s not just that he`s going to get away with it. It`s that every single person who holds that office knows the playbook to avoid the law.

And it`s just to delay until -- until people forget about it.

MENENDEZ: Glenn, do you agree with that assessment?

KIRSCHNER: I do agree.

I agree with Elie that he never had a legal leg to stand on. But the reason it was delayed for so long, when the law says, if the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee makes a request for somebody`s tax returns, they shall be turned over, what he had going for him, Donald Trump, was Bill Barr, was Steve Mnuchin, and others in his executive branch who were willing to ignore or violate the law.

But I`m with Elie. He`s now come to the end of the road, and Congress will get his tax returns.

MENENDEZ: OK, so, Glenn, tell me, then, what would you be looking for in those returns?

KIRSCHNER: I want to look for foreign influence. I want to look for criminal tax evasion.

Listen, the New York district attorney has been out front on this issue. Cy Vance went to the Supreme Court twice to get Donald Trump`s tax returns and financial records from his accounting firm, Mazars. And he`s got them now.

DOJ is playing catch up on the criminal tax fraud front. And I have a feeling, if the New York indictment which charges Allen Weisselberg with grand larceny for stealing taxpayer money, it charges the Trump Organization with grand larceny for stealing taxpayer money, I am betting Donald Trump has got some really interesting information in his tax returns.

MENENDEZ: Elie, what are you betting is in there?

MYSTAL: I`m also looking...

MENENDEZ: Go ahead.

MYSTAL: Yes, I`m also looking for pump and dump, right? Like, it`s the Michael Cohen scheme, right, that he talked about where Trump inflates his real estate assets when it comes time to get a loan and deflates them when it comes time to pay taxes.

That is that is something that Michael Cohen has already testified to them doing. And that`s what I want out of these tax returns, because that, to me, is the most serious and the most prosecutable crime, tax crime, of -- among the other crimes.

MENENDEZ: Glenn, looking at -- looking at both of these stories that we have talked about coming out of DOJ, I think the real appetite here, of course, is for some accountability.

Where do you see the greatest promise of a path to accountability for this administration?

KIRSCHNER: So, most importantly, Donald Trump is a federal problem. He violated federal laws.

In a very real sense, the American people are the victims of Donald Trump`s crimes. And a federal problem cries out for a federal solution. That looks like a federal indictment.

That being said, will New York potentially be the first one to indict him as they move through the Trump Organization prosecution? Might the state of Georgia be the first one to indict him, because they have got the goods on a recorded phone call where he says, I need somebody to find me 11, 780 votes that fell off the back of a truck somewhere, so I can be declared, wrongfully, the winner of the Georgia election?

The state investigations are important. And they must be conducted. But we need him to be held accountable for violating the laws of the United States as president of the United States.

MENENDEZ: Elie, so many moving pieces. Where are you keeping your eye?

MYSTAL: Same as Glenn. I`m -- we need federal prosecution. Garland has to step up to the plate.

But I completely agree. The funny thing about this conversation that we`re talking about today with the DOJ, it`s he`s already on record of doing it in Georgia. And the Georgia case for attempted election fraud is to me the most straightforward, like do not pass go, go directly to jail offense that we have on the table right now.

MENENDEZ: All right, Elie Mystal, Glenn Kirschner, thank you both so much.

Up next: The House is adjourned without finding a way to extend the moratorium on evictions, which expires tomorrow.

Democratic Congresswomen Cori Bush, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ayanna Pressley join me next.



MENENDEZ: Tonight, more than seven million American households are on the brink of losing their homes, as the federal eviction moratorium put in place at the beginning of the pandemic expires tomorrow.

The House has adjourned for its August recess without passing the extension Speaker Pelosi called a moral imperative. At President Biden`s urging, Democratic lawmakers spent the day working on 11th-hour legislation to avert the crisis. Last month, the Supreme Court ruled any new extensions need to come from Congress.

Of the more than $46 billion provided by Congress for rental relief, only $3 billion had been distributed by states through June. And a statement tonight, President Biden called on state and local governments to immediately disburse funds, given the imminent end of the moratorium, adding that there is no legal barrier to moratorium at the state and local level.

Meanwhile, notices have already started going out appearing on front doors across the country, as courts prepare to allow eviction. Families across the country are bracing for disaster.



SIERRA GREEN, FACING EVICTION: It will put me in a panic mode, because, at this point, I`m stuck in between not knowing what`s going to go on with my living situation, as well as still trying to be a mother to my children the best way I can.

ROXANNE SCHAEFER, FACING EVICTION: I have no idea where I will go, what I will do. We haven`t been really saving money because we have been putting what we have towards the rent.

NIKI PRICE, FACING EVICTION: My savings is depleted. It`s totally depleted. And the moratorium is necessary. It`s extremely necessary.


MENENDEZ: Absolutely devastating.

Joining me now on the phone, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez of New York, Missouri Congressman Cori Bush, and Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley.

Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, I want to start with you.

Can you walk us through what happened tonight, the moratorium extension not brought to the floor for a vote, the effort to pass it by unanimous consent was blocked by Republicans, and now the House is going home?


So what we saw today was, frankly, a lot of lack of clarity in what was happening on the floor. And, eventually, what this concluded in, after negotiations all day in trying to secure the votes to extend the eviction moratorium, the House decided to try to pass the eviction moratorium extension by unanimous consent.

Although Republicans objected, the fact of the matter is, is that this was not just Republicans who objected to this. There were not the votes present.

And so we cannot hide. When we have a Democratic majority that is capable of passing legislation, we cannot hide behind the Republican Party in the lack of ability to extend the eviction moratorium.

And so what we want and what we were trying to do, Congresswoman Bush and I ran into the House floor in order to attempt a roll call vote on the motion to adjourn to make sure that we could get people at least on the record saying, I want to leave town or I don`t want to leave town.

And, unfortunately, there was a rush to adjourn the House before Congresswoman Bush and I were capable of doing so.

MENENDEZ: Representative Bush, can you pull back the curtain for us and give us a sense of what was holding up those negotiations that you and your colleagues were engaged in all day?

REP. CORI BUSH (D-MO): You know, what I want to say about this is, look, at the end of the day, the work that we did, we thought that we were doing everything that we could, but when there are -- when there are people and structures, when there is power that says, we have a particular thing that we want to do, for us, we have been trying to figure out every single way that we could, like, how can we get this to stop?

What can we do? And we`re still here. We`re still at the Capitol trying to figure out what we can do. But, for me, I`m looking at everything. I`m thinking about every single person that`s about to be on the street. I`m thinking about every single person that is on the street.

And we complain that we have to do something about homelessness. We complain that we need to do something about COVID-19 and the transmission. We have governors, like my own, who won`t accept federal funds for unemployment benefits, but then it`s -- but then now we`re here.

So we have so many people who are in desperate need right now. I know because I`m one of those people. I have been there. I know what it`s like to be tossed out and not know where to go and have to still take care of your children.

So, I -- this is disturbing. This is appalling. And, as lawmakers, that is a failure. It`s a moral failure. It`s a policy failure. And, as leaders, we do not deserve to serve if we won`t take care of those people that actually have needs right now and we won`t help them.

MENENDEZ: Representative Pressley, just a short time ago, Speaker Pelosi addressed the breakdown. Take a listen.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Really, we only learned of this yesterday. Not enough time to socialize it within our caucus, as well as to build the consensus necessary.


MENENDEZ: So, Congresswoman Pressley should the White House have given Congress more notice to get this done?

And now, given the state that this is in, is there more they can do?

REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA): Absolutely we should have had more notice.

And where we are at right now, I think the point is -- and I agree with Speaker Pelosi`s earlier point that it was a moral imperative to extend this eviction moratorium.

So the fact that we did not do that is a moral failing. We are standing on the precipice of a national tent city, an eviction tsunami in the midst of spikes of the Delta variant. Eviction is already violent. But to do that in the midst of a pandemic, when we are seeing spikes with Delta variant, is unconscionable.

I have been talking with mayors and municipal leaders in my district all day. They have talked about the fact that the utility shutoff moratorium ended. People are being met with balloon payments on their utilities. They cannot pay the rent.


They are asking for more time. This is -- the states have the funds. They have the infrastructure to get it out. The need, the urgent need is there. But they need more time.

Now, the House is adjourned.


PRESSLEY: But -- the House is adjourned, but we still have other levers that we can pull. And we should be exhaustive in our efforts in this House to ensure that people stay in their houses.

And so our options are, the House can reconvene. That`s one option. The second would be that the Senate, which is still in session right now, they could extend this moratorium. And then the third option finally would be for the CDC to act.

MENENDEZ: Representative Ocasio-Cortez, your message to these families now facing eviction?

I mean, how do your colleagues explain this at home during recess?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I frankly don`t know how colleagues, especially those who decided to get on a plane, instead of stay here in Washington and try to figure this out, explain it to their constituents.

But one thing that I can say for our constituents back in -- at home is that we will fight for you, and we are not stopping right now. We are going -- the immediate lever right now and the immediate thing to do is to start seeking these moratoriums on local and state levels.

But we have to go further than that. We need a widespread guarantee. I believe that the House should reconvene in order to get this done and force a vote on this. But we will keep going until we exhaust all levers on this.

And I think that everyday people need to call their members of Congress right now. And let them know that they need to go back to work. This is not a time to go on vacation. This is a time to save people`s right to housing and be able to remain housed.

MENENDEZ: Congresswoman Bush...

PRESSLEY: We`re all on the Financial Services Committee.

And Chairwoman Waters, who led the fight for this emergency bill, agrees that we should have fought harder.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Absolutely.

BUSH: Yes.

MENENDEZ: Congresswoman Bush, as you said, this is, of course, personal for you. And the moratorium sort of puts the spotlight on this issue and marks it as a crisis moment.

Beyond the crisis moment, beyond the moratorium, you have said we need to just fundamentally reimagine how we approach the unhoused crisis by 2025. What`s that going to look like?

BUSH: What we`re saying is, we have just -- we just introduced our legislation, the Unhoused Bill of Rights, that says this country can eradicate homelessness by 2025.

We can do it now, actually, but we can eradicate it by 2025. We need time to build some -- build the homes, but we can eradicate it by 2025. But what we`re saying right now, by adding possibly six, seven million people, then what we`re saying is, we`re not trying to even bring out the -- bring up the people, help the people that are already homeless.

And that`s -- and that`s not OK, because then we will turn around -- let`s be clear -- we will turn around and show up at the homeless shelter at Thanksgiving and take photo-ops handing out turkeys.

And, no, but you put them there. Let`s be clear. You put them there. And you didn`t help bring up and put the people that were already unhoused in homes. And so that`s a shame. And so that`s why we`re still here.

And, for me, when I think about -- the thing that -- this is the thing, the mind-set, what goes through your mind when you are sleeping outside, and you have no -- there`s no safety, there -- it gets cold when it wants to get cold and you can`t control it. It gets hot when it wants to get hot, and you can`t control that either.

Let me tell you, there are no -- there`s no amount of blankets that you can put on to be warm enough when it`s cold outside at night. And so I hope that all my colleagues, all of our colleagues are paying attention to this and realizing that -- their mistake, because let`s -- we can correct it. There`s still time to correct it.

You can come back here to this Capitol. You can show up, and we can get this thing done. Or we can put pressure where pressure is needed. We are freaking Congress. Let`s get this thing done.

MENENDEZ: Representatives Bush, Pressley, Ocasio-Cortez, thank you all so much.

Up next: Republicans are spreading disinformation about the virus, attacking the country`s health institutions, and engaging in anti-science political theater. It could have deadly consequences.

We will be right back.



MENENDEZ: An update for you.

Earlier, we played a clip of CDC Director Rochelle Walensky discussing vaccine mandates.

Moments ago, she made clear that she was referring to mandates by private institutions and portions of the federal government. She clarified that there would be no federal mandates.

It has been an exhausting 19 months since the outbreak of the COVID pandemic. And in that time, about 180 million Americans over the age of 18 have received at least one shot of the vaccine. That is roughly 69 percent of American adults doing their part to beat back this virus.

In the wake of a fourth, more virulent COVID strain, Republicans are ignoring that silent majority and sharing dangerous and dubious information favored by COVID skeptics that represents a minority of the population.

Here, just a few examples.


REP. DAN CRENSHAW (R-TX): Democrats love to instill fear in the hearts of Americans. And I think Americans are really sick of this. They are over it. They are not going to comply. And you shouldn`t comply with any more lockdowns, with any more mandates, none of it.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): It is absolutely factual. The Delta variant is more transmissible, but far less deadly than the virus from last year.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): The CDC issues a new proclamation. Apparently, according to the CDC, vaccines don`t work anymore, that science thing inoperative.


MENENDEZ: To be clear, to be crystal clear, the CDC never said vaccines don`t work.

Cruz`s comments were so dangerous that Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy took to the Senate floor to rebuke his colleague by name.


SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Yesterday I listened to a speech by Senator Cruz of Texas. And it was one of the most dangerous speeches that I have ever heard given on the Senate floor. And it deserves a response.


Don`t come to the Senate floor and make things up. Don`t destroy people`s reputations and careers with wild, unsubstantiated allegations about political motivations.

The CDC doesn`t get it right 100 percent of the time, but they don`t have some secret political agenda.


MENENDEZ: Yet, through their theatrics, these Republicans are misrepresenting the truth with very dangerous, even deadly consequences.

I`m joined now by Donna Edwards, former congresswoman and contributing columnist for "The Washington Post," and Kurt Bardella, a DCCC adviser and former House Oversight Committee spokesman.

Donna, Senator Cruz and others playing a very dangerous game, all this performative outrage, creating a legitimate health risk, right. This all has consequences.

FMR. REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D-MD): Well, it does.

And I think we should be reminded again that over 600,000 Americans have lost their lives to the COVID virus. And so not only are the claims dangerous for performative reasons, but they are dangerous and causing people to lose their lives and to get very sick.

I listened to Rand Paul in the clip that you just ran. And he said something that was wildly inaccurate, that, in fact, the Delta variant is actually very dangerous for people who`ve been unvaccinated, and for vaccinated folks who happen to get, a small number of them, a breakthrough vaccine (sic), they can get sick or they can pass the virus on as well, even though they may not get as sick.

So, I mean, it`s really important here to know that what Republicans are doing, and they`re doing this to their own people, is that they`re causing them to suffer, to die and to get very, very ill. And those of us who are unvaccinated are then put in more jeopardy and facing more restrictions because of their irresponsibility.

And, look, I think there`s a great anger around the country around -- from vaccinated people to unvaccinated. But I`m not angry so much of them. But I am really angry at the legislators who continue to throw out this garbage.

MENENDEZ: Yes, I mean, Kurt, as Donna just said there, the health risk is very clear.

I want to talk about the political risk. And I want to be clear that I`m talking about the political risk because I think that calculus is what is motivating so many of these decisions. So, is there a risk in giving a small minority of Americans who are COVID skeptics essentially veto power over the health of the majority of Americans?


And, again, it`s really something to watch the party that walks around and claims to be pro-life openly advocating for policies and rhetoric that is going to lead to the destruction of life.

The Republican Party right now is presiding over a death cult. And what they`re doing, it`s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. They believe, Republicans have calculated that the only chance that they have to potentially win any election going forward is if the country is in disarray, if the country is in chaos, if the country is in bad shape.

So they are literally making it happen by going out every day and espousing radical, extreme conspiracy theories. And, really, the end result is going to be, they`re going to get their own people killed. People that are vaccinated, they`re hopefully not going to be dying from this variant at the same rate that people who are unvaccinated are.

All the information that we have to this point tells us that people who are dying are unvaccinated Americans. And what`s going to end up happening is, the Republicans, many of whom, by the way, who are talking are actually vaccinated, are leading their own people to slaughter.

And there`s going to be a lot of people lying on their hospital beds, on their ventilators, on their deathbed thinking to themselves, I can`t believe I fell for that, because it`s very clear that, after 600,000 Americans, and the body count continuing to climb, dead from COVID, the Republican Party`s just doesn`t care about your life.

All they care about is their craven attempt to try to politicize health, medicine, safety, facts and truth to try to acquire power. And it`s going to result in unfathomable death and disaster. And I just -- I can`t believe that anybody is willing to let them get away with this at this point, because it`s just destroying the rest of the country for all of us.


Donna, and, at some point, you have to wonder if there is going to be a swing back. Already, we saw Trump`s preferred candidate in a special House election in Texas lost; 17 Republicans bucked his call to block an infrastructure deal.

Is it going to take losses like that to have Republicans start to break themselves from the chains of Donald Trump?

EDWARDS: Perhaps. It`s actually hard to know what causes Republicans to really cut that cord.

But what I will say is that I think, as long as Democrats, like, stay the course -- President Biden even yesterday in his remarks announcing these new restrictions is saying, I`m going to stay the course, I`m going to follow the science.

I think that is going to pay off for Democrats at the polls. And Republicans may realize too late that they have put their eggs in Donald Trump`s basket, and all they`re going to have is a bunch of broken eggs.


MENENDEZ: Yes, I mean, Kurt, I have about 60 seconds left.

I think about this in the context of yesterday, the House Freedom Caucus and members demanding that Representatives Kinzinger and Cheney be removed from the Republican Conference.

I mean, at some point, does the chaos that they are sowing with an eye towards 2022 actually come back to bite them?

BARDELLA: Yes, it will.

They are spending more time playing character cops within their own conference than they are putting forward an agenda and vision that will actually better the lives of American people.

And, at the end of the day, in November of 2022, which is a long time from now, what the people are going to be caring about is what`s going on in their life. And they`re going to remember who was there telling them the truth and who was lying to them about their own health care, their own well-being, their own family`s safety and security.

The Republican Party is setting themselves up for a massive loss in 2022 if they keep going down this extreme conspiratorial way.

MENENDEZ: Kurt, you took my 30-warning seriously, and I appreciate that.

Donna Edwards, Kurt Bardella, thank you both so much.

We will be right back.


MENENDEZ: And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.

I will see you again tomorrow and then Sunday night 6:00 p.m. Eastern for more "AMERICAN VOICES." I`m going to be joined by former Olympic gymnast Bridget Sloan to discuss the latest on the USA gymnastics team in Tokyo and Simone Biles` decision to withdraw from the competition.